William Preston Lane, Jr., was born on May 12, 1892 in Hagerstown. He was a direct descendant of the early settlers of Washington County and several pioneer families of Southern Maryland. Lane attended public schools in Hagerstown and graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Laws in 1915. Admitted to the bar, he began the practice of law in his hometown which was interrupted by service as a Captain with the 115th Infantry in France during World War I.
In 1930, he was elected Attorney General of Maryland and in 1933 pursued an investigation of a lynching even though it meant losing political support on the Eastern Shore.
In 1946, Lane defeated Theodore McKeldin for governor. His administration was noted for its work in the field of mental health and public education. At his request, the State Roads Commission prepared a long-range master plan for highway construction which would entail enactment of a sales tax (which defeated his bid for a second term) and take twelve years to implement. As a part of the plan, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was built. Completed in 1952, it was renamed in Lane's honor after his death in 1967.
Lane married Dorothy Byron of Hagerstown in 1922. They had two daughters, Dorothy (Lane) Campbell, and Jean (Lane) Goddard.
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